For the first time on any Department of Defense project, the U.S. Navy is requiring the use of a project labor agreement (PLA). AGC protests Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s (NAVFAC’s) use of a PLA for the building of the $450-550 million second explosives handling wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
AGC is strongly opposed to government-negotiated PLAs. The Navy says it is setting the parameters of the PLA rather than actually negotiating the agreement between the selected contractor and the unions. However, it does not appear there is much negotiation “wiggle room” beyond the Navy’s parameters, which were preset with Labor.
The Defense Department is reportedly under pressure from the Obama Administration to increase the use of PLAs in its building plans. AGC is particularly concerned because the use of a PLA on such a large project could generate a large push for additional PLAs on federal projects in the State.
AGC strongly believes that the choice of whether to adopt a collective bargaining agreement should be left to the contractor-employers and their employees, and that such a choice should not be imposed as a condition to competing for, or performing on, a publicly funded project. Government mandates and preferences for PLAs can restrain competition, drive up costs, cause delays, lead to jobsite disputes, and disrupt local collective bargaining. In cases where use of a PLA would benefit a particular project, the construction contractors otherwise qualified to perform the work would be the first to recognize that fact and to adopt a PLA voluntarily. They would also be the most qualified to negotiate the terms of such an agreement.
AGC has worked with the short-listed contractors on their own response to the call for comments from the Navy, which has indicated it will soon respond to these comments.